By Frank Jamerson
In Romans 6:11 the apostle Paul discusses the death to sin and the resurrection to a new life. We will quote the entire passage and emphasize certain words for your special consideration.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein? Or are ye ignorant that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; for he that hath died is justified from sin. But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.”
The likeness between Christ’s physical death, burial and resurrection and the burial and resurrection of one who is dead in sin is the point of the passage. When a person reaches the age of accountability and commits sin, he then becomes the slave of sin, or “dead in sin.” He is separated from God’s favor because of his sins. Just as Christ was dead when He was buried, so a person is spiritually dead when he is buried in baptism.
The question we want to address is: When does one die to sin? Some say that he dies to sin When he repents, or turns from sin. The Bible certainly teaches that one must repent before he can be scripturally baptized, but is that the “death to sin” of this passage? If so, then a person is “free from sin” before he is baptized! Verse seven says, “He that hath died is justified from sin.” Verse eleven says those “dead unto sin” are “alive unto God.”
If you look carefully at verses four and eight the picture becomes clear. In verse four: “We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death”; verse eight, “if” died with Christ . . . .” We died with Christ when we were “buried with him through baptism.” The “death” of verse four seems to be our own death to sin. We were buried in order to die to sin. Albert Barnes, a Methodist commentator who did not believe in the necessity of being buried in baptism, made this statement about verse four: “Unto death; i.e. with a solemn purpose to be dead to sin and to the world.”
A penitent believer is still in sin, but when he is baptized “into Christ’s death,” he dies to sin and arises to walk in newness of life. He is “dead in sin,” and is baptized into Christ’s death and into his own “death to sin.” The “old man is crucified with him,” or “the body. of sin is done away” when the person dead in sin is buried by baptism into Christ. When he died to sin He is “justified from sin” (v. 7); he is “alive unto God in Christ Jesus” (v. 11).
Death “to sin” in Romans six takes place when one is baptized into Christ!
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 3, p. 79
February 5, 1987